Attitudes and beliefs of emergency department staff regarding alcohol-related presentations

Devon Indig, Jan Copeland, Katherine M Conigrave, Irene Rotenko
International Emergency Nursing 2009, 17 (1): 23-30

OBJECTIVE: This study examined emergency department (ED) staff attitudes and beliefs about alcohol-related ED presentations in order to recommend improved detection and brief intervention strategies.

METHODS: The survey was conducted at two inner-Sydney hospital EDs in 2006 to explore ED clinical staff's attitudes, current practice and barriers for managing alcohol-related ED presentations. The sample included N=78 ED staff (54% nurses, 46% doctors), representing a 30% response rate.

RESULTS: Management of alcohol-related problems was not routine among ED staff, with only 5% usually formally screening for alcohol problems, only 16% usually conducting brief interventions, and only 27% usually providing a referral to specialist treatment services. Over 85% of ED staff indicated that lack of patient motivation made providing alcohol interventions very difficult. Significant predictors of good self-reported practice among ED staff for patients with alcohol problems included: being a doctor, being confident and having a sense of responsibility towards managing patients with alcohol-related problems.

CONCLUSIONS: This study reported that many staff lack the confidence or sense of clinical responsibility to fully and appropriately manage ED patients with alcohol-related problems. ED staff appear to require additional training, resources and support to enhance their management of patients with alcohol-related problems.

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